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Recap: "Parallel Practices" Panel

March 15, 2011

From left to right: Albright-Knox Chief Curator Douglas Dreishpoon, Petah Coyne, Philip Taafe, Vija Celmins, Robert Gober, and Janine Antoni. Photograph by Bradley Marks.

Albright-Knox Chief Curator Douglas Dreishpoon recently moderated the panel “Parallel Practices: When the Mind Isn’t Focused on Art” at the Annual Conference of the College Art Association, held in New York February 9–12, 2011. His fellow panelists included the artists Janine Antoni, Vija Celmins, Petah Coyne, Robert Gober, and Philip Taafe.

Dreishpoon asked the panelists to consider the nature of creativity: “How does it come, how does it go? What happens when you’re in the studio and you’re in the pulse of creativity, and every idea, every thought is a world of possibilities and you feel like flying? . . . [What about] when there are times when creativity is stymied or dismantled or compromised?” 

Below you will find just a small portion of each artist’s answer. We hope this will encourage you to read the full transcript of the panel

PETAH COYNE: I have three words written above my studio door. They’re written in pencil. You might even not see them. They’re very light. They’re “playful,” “present,” “wandering.” It’s how I approach my work. It’s how I like to approach life. 

PHILIP TAAFE: I began thinking about, well, how—this existential dimension to everyday life and the patterns and rhythms of how I go about thinking about what to do. And I realized that there’s a dimension of divertissement. In other words, there’s a way of tricking oneself to get outside of having to do anything. So that’s a very typical thing for me, is to trick myself into taking time off. . . 

VIJA CELMINS: I do a couple things, mostly. I read. And about ten years ago, I came into some money kind of unexpectedly, and I ran out and bought a car and a little house in the country, which, having lived most of my life in studios, was just fantastic. . . . I bought the house and it came with this garden. . . . I take care of this garden. And I really like it. 

ROBERT GOBER: I’ve had to work since I was twelve years old, mowing lawns, babysitting. When I was sixteen, I became a busboy. My busboy career continued into New York. But [in] 2001, I represented the country at the Venice Biennale. And after that, I didn’t make one sculpture for two years. And what did I do? I gardened. 

JANINE ANTONI: I’ve always had a parallel practice alongside my art. This has allowed me to explore more freely, because I don’t put the same pressures on myself that I do when I’m making art. It is not until I recently encountered Jung’s The Red Book and his concept of the active imagination, that I understood what was happening in my creative process.

Download the Full Transcript (PDF)

Reproduced courtesy of College Art Association (www.collegeart.org).

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